Join Date: Sep 2008
Bikes: Baum Romano, Colossi xCr, Homemade Bamboo!
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A longer report...
The ride heads out of Bright and follows the valley, so the first climb of the day is up to the ski resort at Mt Hotham. With a kick off at 4am, there is a nice gentle 25km up hill run to Harrietville that served as a warm up before we turned left and up on the road to the top. About 28km later you are at Mt Hotham.
Most of the early climb is OK to handle (you are also fresh!) with gradients between 5-9%. There was a lovely line of red tail lights snaking up the mountain both ahead and behind me, but occasionally you could look up and see where the road was traversing on the hill face above - that was a bit of a freak out. The last third of the climb contains a couple of tough sections of 8-12% - 'CRB Hill' being one landmark. By now it was light
Once at the top it is a fun and fast run down to Dinner Plain where the first check point is located (about 4hrs in to my ride).
The second check point is at Omeo, about 110km in to the event (5.5hrs riding). There are some fun sweeping descents early, opening up to rolling countryside. A couple of shorter climbs slow you down, but generally good going.
It started to warm up as I got closer to Angler's Rest (130km/6.5hrs), but the terrain was heading out of the open plains and back into the mountains so there was more shade from trees and less wind. The only thing at this 'town' is a pub called the Blue Duck Inn. I thought about getting a beer, but settled for the usual gels, powders and tablets.
Now it started to get hard. It was getting warmer and the turn off for the High Plains Road (and the next big climb of the day) was only 20km away. At 152km (7.5hrs) I made the turn off and UP. First walkers seen for the day on the 11-12% section that hit us.
The next 20 or so km was the toughest of the day. The road surface was hot, the climbs were steep and folks were struggling. There was a section (about 155-159km) were I had to stop every 500-1000m to rest in the shade beside the road. The HR was up, but I was crawling along. I was playing 'leap frog' with about 10 other guys all doing the same thing.
There was a short section of respite (about 2-3km) with a flat section, but at Trapyard Gate there was a bit of a wall. The Garmin started giving the climb values between 13-15% and I joined a few people walking up one section of road for a few hundred metres. After 160km/8.5hrs it was just too much. Luckily it was only a short section and the gradient up to the big water stop at Raspberry Hill was a lot more manageable (4-6%).
At the Raspberry Hill stop (170km/9.75hrs) I was happy and feeling good. There was 80km to go, but I knew I was going to make it. A couple of the other guys who I'd been riding around didn't seem to share my optimism, but I was sure. I rode out (and past the cooked looking guy flat on the ground with the paramedics treating him) and set off for the final check point at the ski resort of Falls Creek.
Sweeping along the High Plains Road to Falls Creek was easy enough as I spent a lot of my childhood up here and knew my way along. Past the cattlemen's huts and the hyrdro electric dam, past the ski lifts and rolling in to the village at 188km/10.5hrs. I hit the checkpoint just before 5pm, in time to ensure a finish time. I'd been out there for 13 hours, with a total of 2.5hrs stationary at the checkpoints and my rests. There were a bunch of riders already here who had pulled out (including a few guys I last saw at Raspberry Hill) and taken the Broom Bus (it overtook me as I approached the dam). The cooked guy looked a lot better, but still not good (wrapped in damp towels, but I was surprised that they hadn't put him on an IV).
It was downhill for almost 30km to the town of Mt Beauty at the base of the mountain. Lots of fun descending, but I was careful to hold back a bit as I was told at the Falls Creek checkpoint that one guy had gone off the road and down the mountainside earlier (in hospital, ok-ish).
With only 30km to go, you hit the last climb up and over Tawonga Gap to return to the next valley where the start/finish town of Bright is located. By now I was 220km in to the event and it was past 6pm. Everyone had been saying how hard this climb was and how it would break you. Sure, I was tired and would rather not do 8-9km up a hill, but it wasn't as brutal as everyone made out. The road was nice and also a pretty consistent 6% - this was going to be as easy as the regular run up The Peak in Hong Kong (which I did 6x in a row one Sunday in training for this event). I settled in, hit a rhythm and rode on up.
At the top I met a bunch of the key volunteers and organisers. I'd been saying 'Hi' to these blokes all day and they were pleased to see me after witnessing my failure and withdrawal last year. They told me I wasn't last (I'd overtaken that guy at Mt Beauty), warned me to be careful on the descent (regular accident spot) and wished me luck.
The next 20km was a blast. First it was 10km of quick descent, followed by a straight fast (and slightly downhill) run of 10km into town. I was powering along at 30-35km/h as I hit the edge of Bright - not bad riding solo after a full day in the saddle. I even overtook one guy in the final stages as I looped around to approach the finish line, received a roar from the (now drunken) crowd, and rode under the big inflated arch.
4,374m climb (14,350ft)
18.8km/h ave moving speed (11.7mph)
13:13hrs in the saddle
16:18hrs from start
76.5km/h max speed (47.5mph)
22% max gradient
I dragged myself up to the bar for one beer (which I barely managed to finish), rode back to the motel room, ate, showered and pretty much collapsed. Done.